The Salvation of Liberia Will Come Through Political Institutions
By Winsley S. Nanka
Professor George Klay Kieh, Jr. Presidential aspirant for the New Democratic Alternative for Liberia (New Deal Movement) says that the salvation of Liberia will come through political institutions not individuals. Therefore, the New Deal Movement sees itself as having a calling to build a visionary political institution that will withstand the test of time. Speaking in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, March 1, 2003, Professor Kieh challenged Liberians to build political institutions not “political individuals” that are not accountable to the Liberian people.
Professor Kieh stated, “it is customary for Liberian political parties to be organized around individuals without presenting a vision of where they want to take the Liberian people”. These Liberian political parties according to Professor Kieh, “do not have a process of internal democracies” Professor Kieh believes political parties that “do not have a process of internal democracies” cannot democratize Liberia.
The New Deal Presidential aspirant spoke during a Town Hall meeting to a cross section of Liberians, Americans and Africans in the Diaspora on the topic “The New Deal Movement Vision for Liberia”. Professor Kieh revealed that if the New Deal Movement attains state power in Liberia, its priority would be the political and economic stabilization of Liberia. This process would involve the restoration of critical infrastructures as envisions in the development blueprint of the New Deal Movement; and the restoration of the dignity of the Liberian people.
The critical infrastructures the New Deal Movement would restore include electricity, water, and telecommunications among others. Professor Kieh further intimated that the movement would “resettle our people from displaced camps and abandon government buildings to their original homes”. The New Deal Presidential aspirant revealed he and his running mate, Mr. Alaric Tokpa are from “humble backgrounds,” therefore, they can easily identify with the plight of Liberians in abandon government buildings and displaced camps in and around Liberia.
Continuing, Professor Kieh disclosed that national reconciliation would take a center stage in the New Deal administration. However, Professor Kieh was quick to note that the first step in a reconciliation process is the admission of guilt and acceptance of responsibility by those that did wrong to the Liberian people.
The New Deal Movement believes the Liberian government bureaucracy is too large; therefore, the New Deal Movement would restructure the Liberian government by reducing the number of government ministries from its current level of 23 to 13. The consolidations would make the affected government ministries and agencies more efficient and responsive to the needs of the Liberian people. The movement would also privatize some of the public corporations in Liberia, Professor Kieh explained.
On the number of security agencies in Liberia, Professor Kieh said the New Deal Movement would streamline the security apparatus to make it more responsive to the needs of the Liberian people. “Currently there are various security agencies with conflicting responsibilities,” Professor Kieh stated. In addition, Professor Kieh believes these security agencies serve as instruments of terror in Liberia. “The Liberian people must see their security agencies as their protectors not abusers”, Professor Kieh maintained.
Furthermore, The New Deal Presidential aspirant revealed the New Deal administration would de-politicize the civil service agency. Liberian civil servants would not have to operate political party cells in any ministry anymore.
On the Liberian economy, Professor Kieh explained that the New Deal Movement would create an enabling environment for businesses in Liberia. This enabling environment includes a transparent and independent judiciary and an efficient banking system. The movement would also provide micro financing to Liberians to go into business. Professor stated, “The New Deal Movement government would serve as a catalyst in the development of a Liberian entrepreneur class, among others”. The New Deal Presidential aspirant however, was quick to say if the New Deal Movement wins the presidency of Liberia, it would protect the poor and downtrodden.
Education would be the number priority of the New Deal Movement according to Professor Kieh. Therefore, the New Deal Movement would seek to provide a first rate educational system for Liberians.
During the question and answer period, when Professor Kieh was asked about what model of accountability the New Deal Movement would use if it attains state power, he answered, “ The New Deal Movement would largely draw on the South African Model”. He says people that committed atrocities against the Liberian people would be punished. There must be social justice to serve as a deterrent. “Anyone responsible for the deaths of the Liberians including warlords if it can be proven through the legal system, would be punished”, Professor Kieh stated.
On the question of funding for his socio-economic development initiatives, Professor Kieh said the New Deal Movement would draw on the resources of Liberia and assistance from members of the international community. He also said there is goodwill within the international community to assist Liberia provided there is what he called “ a visible demonstration of a responsible and reliable leadership in Liberia.”
When asked about how the New Deal Administration would curtail corruption, Professor Kieh stated his administration would require government officials to declare their assets annually to the Bureau of Public Integrity. The New Deal administration would also establish a conflict of interest code that would forbid government officials from practicing law, public accounting and operating other businesses while serving in the public sector.
It is customary for Liberian government officials to maintain private professional practices in law, accounting, etc. while actively employed by the Liberian government. In most cases, these government officials represent their clients in cases that the government has interest. Liberian government officials have resisted attempts in the past to reform this ugly practice.
For example, during his tenure as dictator Charles Taylor National Patriotic Party’s Senator, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine continued to operate his law firm and his firm represented clients in cases that the government had interest. Many other Liberians have participated in this practice including Cora Peabody, who serves as Liberia’s Commerce Minister and operates a provision store in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, Professor Kieh has disclosed that the Kieh-Tokpa Team would travel to Houston, Texas on March 29, 2003 to acquaint Liberians with its socio-economic development blueprint and to solicit Liberians views about the problems facing Liberia.